It’s frightening to contemplate where the Montreal Canadiens would be without Carey Price this season. Equally troubling is where they are headed if Price can’t crank his game back up soon.
Through his first 25 starts of the season, Price was as good as any goalie in the league, providing the Habs with a chance to win every night as the team shot to the top of the Northeast Division. Lately, things haven’t been going as well for the team and its goalie. It’s not that the club’s swoon over the past dozen games can be pinned on Price – not by a long shot. But there’s no doubt the 23-year-old hasn’t been playing at the same elite level he was earlier in the season, going 2-7-1 in his past 10 starts, despite not seeing more than 30 shots in the last seven of those games.
Price has by no means been surrendering a slew of goals that have hurt the team; it’s just that those bacon-saving stops he was making game in and game out in October and November have dried up. Montreal’s most recent loss perfectly exemplified where the team needs its goalie to be. The Canadiens fired 50 shots at Atlanta Thrashers creaseman Ondrej Pavelec Sunday afternoon, but couldn’t scrounge up more than one point in a 4-3 overtime loss. Atlanta had 28 shots and while none of the goals were stinkers, it was hard to fight the feeling Price couldn’t have come up with one more big stop or sucked in one more rebound to help get his team a win.
Every player goes through ups and downs over a long schedule and, of course, spotting a struggling goalie is always easier than identifying a slumping skater. If this is the roughest patch Price endures, this season will be considered a huge success. But with the Canadiens now firmly entrenched in a dogfight for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, they need their big puckstopper to get his game back to the elite level it was at just a very short time ago.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.